Learn some interesting facts about dental implants in this four-part article series, from their historical conception to their sophistication as a strong and durable tooth replacement technology.
Welcome back to our four-part article series on dental implants and the many interesting facts there are to learn about this very important technology! In our previous article post, the first installment of the series, we looked at the various materials our ancient counterparts used to replace missing teeth, from gold and ivory to seashell and gemstones. We then talked about the material from which modern tooth implants in Chicago are made – titanium, which is also the same metal from which space craft, military fighter jets and professional golf clubs are made! Now, let’s take a look at just how we made the transition from using crude tooth replacement materials to titanium.
Interesting Fact # 3: Modern Implants Were an Accidental Discovery!
The modern dental implants used by Chicago dentists today were actually discovered accidentally! In 1952, Swedish orthopedic surgeon Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark (image above) was working on a clinical research project using rabbit bone and titanium metal. The aim of this research was to examine the blood flow within a rabbit bone using an implant titanium chamber.
Once his experiment was done and all the data collected, Professor Branemark tried to remove the implant chamber, only to find that the rabbit bone had actually bonded with the surface of titanium metal. In other words, the bone tissue had integrated with the implant, essentially making this “foreign” material a part of the rabbit’s body! This breakthrough discovery was called “osseointegration” and it opened up an incredible number of possibilities for medical science that would benefit both humans and animals.
Nowadays, the entire field of orthopedic surgery, dedicated to the repair and replacement of bones and joints in the body, is done using medical grade titanium metal. But what also resulted from this discovery was dental implantology. Dentists had, for many hundreds of years, tried to find a substance from which replacement teeth could be made; one that could remain permanently fixed in the jaw and wouldn’t be rejected by the body. Over the years, dentists experimented with all sorts of materials and metals, but time and again, the jawbone would simply grow around the implant or reject it entirely.
The discovery of titanium’s complete biocompatibility – its ability to “osseointegrate” – was a breakthrough in medical and dental science that has since evolved in leaps and bounds. Osseointegration essentially enables modern implant dentists to provide patients with a fixed, non-removable and totally functional replacement solution to missing teeth, whether they have lost one tooth or all of them! Nowadays, millions of dental implants are successfully placed in the United States every year.
The image above shows, under the microscope, how the bone tissue (orange) fuses and knits together with the rough surface of a titanium implant (grey).
Interesting Fact # 4: Dental Implants are Free Standing
Because of the ability of dental implants to biologically bond with the encasing jawbone, they are entirely free standing. In other words, they are independent and don’t require support from the gums (as is the case with removable dentures) or the neighboring teeth (as is the case with dental bridges). As a result, dental implants don’t typically damage the surrounding hard and soft tissues in the mouth and, just like your original teeth, feel natural and comfortable! It is for this reason – one of many – that implant dentists in Chicago recommend dental implants over and above the conventional approaches to missing teeth, which cause all sorts of problems for patients in the long run.
Stay Tuned for Part 3
To read more interesting facts about dental implants in Chicago, stay tuned for the third installment of this four part article series.